Colonel Barbara Howell will take a leap of faith next month, bungy jumping off the Auckland Harbour Bridge to support Salvation Army officers in Papua New Guinea. Barbara, Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries, will make the jump as part of a Northern Women’s Ministries divisional fundraiser.
The fundraiser follows the highly successful annual Territorial Women’s Ministries Project, with women raising $22,099.20 to support Army projects in three countries—well over their target of $19,300. ‘We want to share our appreciation and thank everyone for their support and generous gifts. We give glory to God that we will be able to impact the lives of people in three different countries,’ Barbara said. It was inspiring to see the women giving so generously to needs that were greater than their own, she said.
The funds will support an education programme for single-parent and marginalised families in Taiwan, help increase programmes for young women and provide nutritious food for a children’s centre in Bangladesh, and support the Suva Family Care Centre in Fiji, which helps homeless women and those escaping domestic violence.
Barbara visited Fiji earlier this year and said the funds for the Family Care Centre would make a big difference. The centre desperately needed its main sewer line repaired. ‘If we can give some comforts of home and do something as simple as fix a pipe so sewage doesn’t backwash into the building every time it rains hard,that’s glorifying and honouring God,’ said Barbara.
While the territory-wide project runs every year, Barbara said individual divisions and corps often have other projects they want to support. Projects like the Northern Division Women’s Ministries fundraiser to give each newly commissioned Salvation Army officer in Papua New Guinea a hygiene and first aid kit—providing expensive, but much needed basics.
To support the fundraiser, Barbara will bungee jump off the Harbour Bridge on 8 September. She originally thought she was jumping off the Sky Tower after a casual chat on her first Auckland visit last year, shortly after she and her husband, Chief Secretary Colonel Willis Howell, arrived from the United States. ‘They were showing us the Sky Tower. We were looking at the platform and chatting and Major Sheryl Jarvis said, “We could do a great fundraiser if you were willing to jump off.” I said, “Sure,” and somehow we’ve got from there to doing the bridge!’
Despite US friends suggesting she may have gone too far in the daring stakes, Barbara had a sense of peace about the jump, which she’s hoping will last once she reaches the platform. And she’s trying to find positives, inspired by Joshua 1:9, which says: ‘Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God your God is with you every step you take.’ (The Message)
‘I couldn’t help but think how God has told me so many times, “It’s okay, I have got you.” I feel secure doing this jump because the harness has me; it’s been tested and people do it every day. The Lord asks me to step out and do life with him like that every day because he’s got me, so hopefully my mind will be able to think about that.’